The Bullseye - April 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
In This Issue:
Stimulus Plan: Career Fields that Will Benefit,
Monthly Contest Winner,
Key Tips for Adapting to Change,
The New GI Bill Explained
Stimulus Plan: Career Fields that Will Benefit
Many industries are suffering due to the state of the economy. President Obama has recently signed a $787 billion recovery act termed the, “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” This act is more commonly known as the “stimulus plan.” Part of what the plan intends to do is create jobs and invigorate the economy. Though it will take time to enact such a large package and allocated funds, experts believe that several industries will reap the benefits offered from the stimulus plan.
The first industry is the construction industry, in which benefits will be two-fold. Jobs will be created and the nation’s infrastructure will improve. The focus will be on roads, bridges, rail lines, wastewater and drinking water facilities. Schools will also be included. The Associated General Contractors of America approximates that stimulus spending would create or rescue 1.85 million jobs. This includes 640,000 in construction and 300,000 among suppliers and equipment manufacturers.
The “green” industry will likely draw gains as well. This will be coupled with the utilities and energy industries. The plan aims to reduce dependence on foreign oil as well as reduce greenhouse gases and consumption of non-renewable sources. Also, public utility commissions will be looking to improve the nation’s electrical grid.
The plan assigns $19 billion for updated health information technology. The initiative is aimed at increasing the number of physicians who use computers in their practice. This will provide opportunities for professionals who train health personnel and run health systems, including computer assemblers, systems analysts, and project managers.
Education will be given $53.6 billion to help stabilize states’ educational turmoil and avoid further cuts and layoffs. This funding could potentially lead to new teaching positions and administrative jobs and also provides monies for modernization of schools.
The federal government will be expanding too. Naturally, there needs to be employees in place to administer a package of this proportion. Lawyers, regulators, accountants, and other administrative professionals will be needed for appropriate funds allocation.
The key here is a “wait and see” strategy. It will take time, but if the stimulus package succeeds, there will be a variety of new jobs, and, hopefully, we will see a slow, but steady recovery.
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Key Tips for Adapting to Change
One thing is for certain in this economic down draft…the winds of change are upon us. Not even the most solid company is guaranteed to weather the storm. All of us must adapt to a very dynamic and unstable environment. So how does the average worker make this happen without sacrificing their sanity? Here are some key tips:
· Think of the Future: Don’t be blindsided. Always be aware that in today’s economy, anything can happen. Be sure to prepare yourself for different scenarios. What if another employee left and you were asked to take on some of his/her responsibilities? What if your department closed and they asked you to move into a different role? It is important to expect that things will change, and adjust accordingly.
· Maintain Open Lines of Communication: Be sure your boss and other “top management” know that you are open and willing to learn new things. Now is not the time to be a wallflower. Your flexibility and foresight could literally be a “job saver”.
· Use Your Imagination: This might sound a little metaphysical, but it is important to visualize yourself adapting and being successful. Believe it or not, studies have shown that the “self-fulfilling prophecy” is a true phenomenon. If you believe you are adaptable, you will be. Visualizing success can make it happen.
· Have Knowledge: Always do your best to find out what is happening within the company. Expand your network and get to know people in other departments. Strengthen your relationships, so that you are aware of potential changes. For example, are any departments letting go of people? Are there any intra-organizational consolidations happening?
It is also important to strengthen your industry knowledge by reading trade publications and joining organizations dedicated to your field. This will help you stay on top of industry trends. It will also help you know what skills and technologies are required to be successful in your field.
If you still feel unprepared after thoroughly employing the above tips, read up on some literature about change. One popular book, Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson, tells the story of two mice and their hunt for cheese. There are many other books in your local library and bookstore that can help. A Google search will also reveal a plethora of information.
The most important thing to remember is to be adaptable. To survive in today’s economy, an employee must be dynamic, not static. They must be willing to exercise flexibility and stay positive while doing so.
Congratulations to this Month's Winner
The New GI Bill Explained
Whether you are gainfully employed or are faced with some down time, there is no better time to enhance your future prospects by seeking further education. With the re-vamping of the GI Bill comes an opportunity for veterans to obtain or further their higher education. The new GI bill takes effect on August 1, 2009, and is the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original bill was enacted in 1944.
President Bush signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, commonly called the new GI Bill or Chapter 33, into law on June 30, 2008, following a year-and-a-half of advocacy, endorsement, and support by US Senators, dozens of US governors, and organizations from the VFW to the American Council on Education. This new bill extends way beyond tuition assistance – eligible veterans will receive full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend, and a $1,000/year stipend for books and supplies.
All veterans who have served at least 90 consecutive days following September 10, 2001, with an honorable discharge, will qualify for the minimum benefit: 40% of tuition, books, and living expenses. The benefits increase proportionately based on time in service, up to 100% of tuition, books, and living expenses for those who have served 36 total months following September 10, 2001. 100% benefits also are available for Current National Guardsmen and Reservists with 36 total months of post-9/11 service, as well as veterans with 30 days’ post-9/11 active duty service discharged due to service-connected disability.
If you graduated from a Service Academy or received an ROTC scholarship, you also qualify for the new GI Bill benefits to attend graduate school. However, your ROTC/Service Academy obligated active-duty service time does not count toward the three years necessary to qualify for the full benefits. If you served even an additional 90 days after your active duty commitment, you are eligible for the 40% benefit threshold, with 100% benefits awarded to those with an additional three years active duty service.
The tuition payments are capped at the undergraduate-level tuition cost of the most expensive public school in the state you will be attending school (ranging from a low of $3500 in Wyoming to a high of $13,000 in Michigan, based on 2008 in-state tuition rates). Tuition is paid directly to the university, and if you choose a school with tuition less than the cap, you will not be provided a check for the difference. Only the ZIP code of the school you wish to attend affects your benefits—not your home of record ZIP code. These benefits also apply to graduate school.
If you choose to attend a college or graduate school with tuition greater than the tuition cap, check out the Yellow Ribbon Program, which is being set up by the VA. A school must enter into an agreement with the VA, set up a veterans’ scholarship, and then the federal government will match whatever funds the school provides to the scholarship.
Service members currently on active duty can use the benefits for tuition only and might want to consider using the old Chapter 30 benefits instead. This applies to veterans taking long-distance or part-time class schedules, as well. See the table for more information, and to learn more please visit http://www.gibill.va.gov/.
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